oppn parties Political Funding Reforms: This Government is Not Serious

News Snippets

  • In reply to a question in Parliament, the government says it is empowered to lawfully intercept, monitor or decrpyt information stored in a computer resource in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of India
  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Political Funding Reforms: This Government is Not Serious

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Buoyed by the lack of corruption in the upper echelons of this NDA government, one was expecting that it will bring about transparency in political funding and election spending, the two most opaque things that lead to corruption and worse. When Arun Jaitley had reduced the amount of cash political parties could receive as donation from a single source in his 2017 budget proposals, one was further enthused that more important reforms would be undertaken in due course.

But belying all hopes, Jaitley has introduced an amendment in his budget proposals that will make donations even more opaque. Hitherto, companies could donate up to 7.5% of their average net profits in the three immediately preceding years to one or more political parties. By proposing an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013, the finance minister seeks to withdraw the cap and the restriction.

Further, what troubles more is that companies will no longer be obliged to disclose the name of the political party to which they have made the donation. This will lead to big corruption as ruling parties can ask for donation to party funds (not needed to be disclosed and hence untraceable) in return for bestowing favours like licenses to companies.

Also, since funding through Election Bonds can be done without disclosing the names, companies should be barred from purchasing more than a certain amount of Bonds every year. In their case, it should be mandatory to disclose the name of the party to whom they paid through such Bonds. Ideally, it will be better if the Election Bond route is kept open only for individuals or non-corporate entities.

The intention of reforming political funding is to smash the cosy nexus between political parties and big business. This amendment is going to achieve the opposite. Hence, it should be withdrawn immediately. Some experts have pointed out that the section in the Companies Act could have been deleted ‘inadvertently.’ If it is indeed so, it should be restored without delay. It is fine if the government wishes to remove the cap, but disclosure norms should stay.